Archive for Sunday, March 24, 1996

BRAIN

March 24, 1996

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A doctor who performed the autopsy on Albert Einstein gave his first public presentation to a group of local schoolchildren.

Physicist Albert Einstein had a brain that "was more active" than most people's, according to the doctor who performed an autopsy on Einstein and preserved his brain.

"It's difficult for people to see the difference without a lot of study," said Dr. Thomas Harvey, who performed an autopsy on Einstein after he died in 1955 at a Princeton, N.J., hospital.

"But there has been some research done that showed he had an increased number of supporting cells to the brain cells.

"Certain parts of his brain seemed to be more active and needed more nourishment, and he needed more of these cells."

Harvey, an 82-year-old Lawrence resident, made the comments Thursday during a presentation to about 300 seventh-graders at Southwest Junior High School.

It was his first talk about Einstein's brain to a group of schoolchildren.

Harvey preserved Einstein's brain after the autopsy because he knew it would be of scientific interest, he said.

The brain has since been cut up into about 200 pieces, many of which have been used for research at various universities.

Harvey still has many parts of the brain and original photographs of it after the autopsy.

During Thursday's 45-minute presentation, Harvey showed slides and photographs of the brain.

Linda Kraus, the teacher who sponsored his visit, also passed around a slide containing a thin slice of Einstein's brain to give children a close-up view.

Some made squeamish faces during that part of the program.

"It was fun," said Laura Panella, 12. "The best part was seeing his brain."

She said it wasn't too gross.

Student Jeremy Farmer said his favorite part of the presentation was "how he explained how Einstein's brain was better than other people's.

"I thought it was very neat and well worthwhile," he said.

Harvey, who works part time at an auto repair business, said people are fascinated with the brain "for the same reason I saved it. It's the brain of a genius."

He also told the children that he turned down offers to sell the brain for "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

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